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Financial Times: Dutch connections

By Paul Betts
Published: June 1 2007 03:00 | Last updated: June 1 2007 03:00

Britain and the Netherlands have always had long and fruitful business relations. These have spawned such multinationals as Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, Reed Elsevier and the Corus steel group now under Indian ownership. Yet France now seems to be steadily encroaching on this traditional Anglo-Dutch connection. With some remarkable results, if recent Franco-Dutch mergers in the property sector and the airline business are anything to go by. As a measure of this success, both Unibail and Air France-KLM are now set to make their entry later this month in the Paris CAC40 blue chip stock index.

Unibail will become the first property company to be included in the leading French index following its acquisition of the Dutch Rodamco group. Not only has the deal propelled it to the top of the European property league but driven its share price up by nearly 60 per cent in the last 12 months.

The performance of Air France-KLM has been even more impressive. The airline’s shares have gained more than 125 per cent during the past 12 months. The carrier has also reported record profits as it continues to reap the benefits of one of the rare successful mergers in the airline business.

British Airways must be kicking itself. The UK carrier, now considering bidding for Spain’s Iberia in partnership with private equity groups, squandered two opportunities to merge with KLM.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

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